UNAfrican Union mission reports return to relative calm in Darfur

Over the past month, the hybrid operation tasked with quelling the violence and protecting civilians in Darfur, known as UNAMID, had reported a rise in attacks on peacekeeping staff, carjacking, armed banditry, the burning of shelters in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and harassment of civilians in Darfur. There has also been concern over the safety of humanitarian workers, many of whom have been ordered to leave the region following the indictment on 4 March of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the region.Over the past 72 hours, UNAMID said that its military force conducted dozens of patrols across the region, including 22 confidence-building patrols, 15 escort patrols, six night patrols, and one investigation patrol covering 45 villages and camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).UNAMID’s police component also conducted a total of 96 patrols in and around the villages and IDP camps.The hybrid force was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen. More than one year on from transferring the task of suppressing the violence to UNAMID from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), well over 12,000 of the 19,555 military personnel authorized by the Security Council are now in place across Darfur.In related news, the second regular meeting of the Darfur Human Rights Forum will kick off tomorrow in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur state. The one-day meeting is aimed at promoting transparent and constructive dialogue on human rights issues between the Government of Sudan and UNAMID.Attending the gathering will be officials from the Government of Sudan at the local and national level; members of the Advisory Council on Human Rights (ACHR), also representing the Government; members of the diplomatic community; the AU; UNAMID and UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) Human Rights officials. Participants from the Darfur State Committees on Combating Violence against Women and Children will also participate. 13 April 2009The joint United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region today reported that the security situation is now relatively calm despite some continuing acts of banditry and carjacking in North and West Darfur. read more

UN human rights chief appeals for cooperation in Gaza probe

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the Geneva-based Council in Geneva that the ongoing heavy import restrictions and near total prohibition of exports have negative cumulative effects on the realization of a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, of the Gaza population. “Gazans’ rights continue to be severely undermined or violated,” she stated. “These crippling conditions must be eased. Ultimately, the blockade and other restrictions that violate human rights must be lifted.”Ms. Pillay said that reports of human rights violations by both sides “must be investigated by credible, independent and transparent accountability mechanisms, respectful of international standards of due process.“All parties concerned, as well as States and the international community as a whole, should extend full support and cooperation to all such accountability efforts,” she said. “In particular, I stress the need for full cooperation with, unimpeded access to, and support of, the ongoing work of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission mandated by the Human Rights Council and headed by Justice Richard Goldstone.” The Council appointed Mr. Goldstone to lead an independent team of investigators to study the allegations of human rights violations in the fighting between 27 December and 18 January. The team visited Gaza from 1 to 5 June, entering through Egypt after having been denied access through Israel. The President of the Council, Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, today said that the team members “have not lost hope of visiting areas of southern Israel and the West Bank, although this has not yet been possible as they have not received a positive response from the Government of Israel to repeated requests for cooperation.” 15 June 2009The top United Nations human rights official today called for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza and cooperation with an investigation mandated by the Human Rights Council of the recent conflict there. read more

Top UN official urges immediate publication of timetable for Ivorian polls

17 July 2009The top United Nations official in Côte d’Ivoire has called for the immediate publication of a timetable for the long-awaited presidential elections, which are now set for 29 November. If the deadlines for each stage of the electoral process are not met, there is a risk that the polls – repeatedly postponed since 2005 – could be delayed, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Choi Y. J., said following a meeting on Wednesday with Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.The UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which is headed by Mr. Choi, has been providing technical and logistical support for preparations for the elections, including in areas such as voter identification and registration. Over 6 million voters have been registered so far, or about 70 per cent of the eligible voter pool in the West African nation, which became divided in 2002 between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north.Mr. Choi, who held a similar meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo earlier this week, also stressed that UNOCI is ready to assist the Independent Electoral Commission and the relevant authorities in overcoming any challenge on the road to the elections, according to a news release issued by the mission.In addition, the Special Representative underlined the fact that the implementation of decisions associated with the country’s 2003 peace agreement had been postponed, including the transfer of authority and the redeployment of the administration in the north of the country. “We talked about how to strengthen the achievements and how to take up the challenges,” said Mr. Choi.In his latest report on the work of UNOCI, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that Côte d’Ivoire’s political parties have the responsibility for ensuring that the elections are held on time and are free, fair and transparent.He added that it is important that the parties sustain the progress achieved so far and complete, “in a timely manner,” the remaining stages of the peace process. In a related development, UNOCI staff met yesterday with their colleagues from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to identify challenges associated with the 1,000 microprojects programme.Launched in 2008, the $4 million pilot initiative is designed to support the Government’s efforts to reintegrate ex-combatants. Some 2,700 people are working on 507 projects throughout the country under the programme, which is financed by the UN Peacebuilding Fund that was set up to help jump-start projects in countries emerging from conflict. read more

UN development partnership seeks to boost agricultural sector in Myanmar

15 December 2009United Nations development officials held talks with Government ministers in Myanmar today aimed at boosting the impoverished country’s agricultural sector to help it reclaim its status as the rice bowl of Asia. “It is my hope these ideas and analysis will open a new space for policy discussion and a further deepening of our development partnership,” UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer said at the event held in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.This development partnership, requested by the Government, provides a unique platform for eminent international scholars and local researchers to exchange experiences and ideas with government agencies and civil society, she added of this the second in a series of events being organized by ESCAP with the country’s Ministries of Agriculture and Irrigation, and National Planning and Economic Development.At ESCAP’s invitation, Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz and other eminent experts discussed various strategies for Myanmar to reduce poverty in light of Asia’s regional and sub-regional experiences. Mr. Stiglitz noted that Myanmar was well-positioned to learn from other countries in the region that have developed economically on the back of gains in agriculture.There are large opportunities for improvement and Myanmar should take a comprehensive approach, he said, urging the Government to promote access to appropriate agricultural financing and boost access to seeds and fertilizers. The country should also dramatically boost spending on health and education, and create well-paid jobs in construction of rural infrastructure to stimulate development and raise incomes and spending.Mr. Stiglitz also noted that well-functioning institutions were critical to success, stressing that revenues from oil and gas can open up a new era, if used well. If not, then valuable opportunities will be squandered, he warned said, adding that economics and politics cannot be separated.For Myanmar to take a role on the world stage and to achieve true stability and security, there must be widespread participation and inclusive processes, he said.Myanmar’s Agriculture and Irrigation Minister U Htay Oo welcomed the continued close cooperation with ESCAP in the development partnership series. “I look forward to the joint activities to come in 2010, in particular the regional development programme for sustainable agriculture towards inclusive rural economy development,” he said. read more

UN to assist Uganda rebuild burned World Heritage List site

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported today that a mission of experts it had sent at the Government’s request had determined that reconstruction of the Tombs, which were badly damaged in the 16 March fire, is feasible.Only the walls and some of the frame of the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, the building that housed the four royal tombs, still stand, and they have been seriously weakened. Situated on the Kasubi Hill, five kilometres from the centre of Kampala, the capital, the building was thatched with dry grass and wood which burned in the fire.“I am glad to report that an expert mission confirms the feasibility of this unique World Heritage site’s reconstruction,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said. “UNESCO will do everything in its power to help the Ugandan authorities mobilize the resources needed to bring this site back to life and to ensure its future safeguarding. We are already activating emergency funds for this purpose.” The Tombs of Buganda Kings were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001 when they were recognized as a masterpiece of human creativity, bearing eloquent witness to the living cultural traditions of the Baganda people, Uganda’s largest ethnic group. The site has been an important centre of religious activity for the Baganda since it was established at the end of the 19th century.“The know-how and material resources used in building the original edifice in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are still readily available locally,” said Lazare Eloundou, Chief of the Africa Unit at UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, who led the mission.“The main priority even before reconstruction has to be the building of temporary shelters for the royal tombs to allow ritual ceremonies and practices to be maintained and the collection of all available documentary data about the property.” The mission’s report will be examined by the World Heritage Committee during its next session in Brazil in July and August. The Committee is expected to mobilize international support for the reconstruction and the mission urged the Ugandan authorities to wait for international input, both material and technical, before they start rebuilding the property. Two people were killed during protests sparked by anger at the destruction a day after the fire, the cause of which remains unclear. 13 April 2010The United Nations will help Uganda mobilize resources to restore the Tombs of Buganda Kings, a World Heritage List site, following their near-destruction in a fire last month. read more

Kosovo UN envoy stresses need for dialogue to resolve outstanding issues

Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), told the Security Council that efforts to properly resolve issues between Belgrade and Pristina – the respective capitals of Serbia and Kosovo – had been hindered by the anticipated issuance of the advisory opinion.On 22 July, judges at the ICJ concluded that the February 2008 declaration does not breach either general international law, Security Council resolution 1244 adopted in 1999 following the end of fighting in Kosovo, or the constitutional framework that was adopted by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on behalf of UNMIK.“The issuance of the ICJ opinion, therefore, should now open a new phase and allow Belgrade and Pristina to engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to the resolution of these issues,” said Mr. Zannier, adding that this dialogue would be very important for the stability and the development of the region.He also noted that the UN’s preliminary legal assessment is that the opinion does not affect the status of UNMIK, or its status-neutral policy. Overall, Mr. Zannier reported, the situation in Kosovo has been relatively stable during the period from mid-March to mid-July.However, as incidents in northern Kosovo in early July demonstrated, the potential for instability remains, he said, referring to the violence in Mitrovica prompted by the opening of a civil service centre by the Ministry of Interior of Kosovo.“The recent violence in northern Mitrovica reminds us of the need for all sides to commit to dialogue as a necessary precondition for addressing the challenges faced in northern Kosovo,” said Mr. Zannier. “Kosovo’s communities are going to have to work together to rebuild the trust that has been destroyed.”In his latest report to the Security Council on UNMIK, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that “sensitive issues related to northern Kosovo can only be addressed peacefully and through continuing consultation and coordination between all relevant actors, taking into account the specific circumstances and concerns of all communities.”Mr. Ban added that progress on the return of displaced persons to Kosovo remains “disappointingly” low and that there is a need for greater focus on reconciliation between the communities.“The absence of significant progress in reconciliation between the communities, coupled with economic difficulties, continues to present a challenge and to foster the risk of unrest,” wrote the Secretary-General.“It is my assessment that this period has not seen sufficient progress in addressing outstanding challenges related to Kosovo, in advancing regional cooperation, or in finding solutions to issues of common concern to communities, as well as to Pristina and Belgrade. “It is also my assessment that the period following the issuance of the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence will provide for further opportunities in this regard,” states Mr. Ban. “These opportunities can be best explored through a coherent and inclusive approach by the international actors engaged in Kosovo.”UNMIK administered Kosovo from 1999 when North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid bloody fighting between ethnic Serbs and Albanians, but it gave up its administrative role in 2008 when Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) declared independence. Serbia rejects Kosovo’s declaration of independence and continues to expect a robust role on the part of the UN mission. 3 August 2010With the International Court of Justice having rendered the much anticipated advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia, the two sides should now engage in constructive dialogue to resolve outstanding issues between them, a senior United Nations official said today. read more

Haiti UN voices hopes for greater reconstruction after approval of new premier

Haiti’s Senate yesterday followed the country’s lower parliamentary chamber in endorsing President Michel Martelly’s choice of Garry Conille, a veteran UN official who was most recently resident coordinator in Niger, after Parliament rejected two earlier nominees in a stand-off that prompted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Mariano Fernández to express concern for national stability.Today Mr. Fernández hailed the endorsement and called on all sectors of Haitian society to intensify their dialogue to reach agreement on initiatives that strengthen democratic institutions, ensure peace and security, and promote sustainable social and economic development.He urged Parliament to approve Mr. Conille’s Government programme so that major reconstruction efforts can be launched without further delay in Haiti, which has been torn by instability, afflicted by hurricanes, floods and landslides, and is still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake, which in January 2010 killed over 200,000 people, displaced 2.3 million more, and caused enormous material damage.Mr. Conille has served as chief of staff for former United States president Bill Clinton in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Haiti, and has worked for the UN since 1999, serving in Ethiopia, Haiti and most recently in Niger, where he was also the Representative of UN Development Programme (UNDP).Mr. Fernández heads the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which currently fields nearly 9,000 troops and over 3,500 police and has been on the ground since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest.MINUSTAH has a broad mandate, ranging from ensuring security and stability, supporting constitutional and political processes and helping to organize and monitor free and fair elections, to assisting in the protection of human rights and aiding reconstruction efforts after the quake, including in the implementation of resettlement strategies for displaced persons. Addressing the Security Council last month, Mr. Fernández appealed to the international community to ramp up its funding and development activities in Haiti, warning that political tensions and precarious socio-economic conditions are threatening its stability.UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, who visited Haiti last week, warned that the humanitarian crisis following the earthquake is not over.She said improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and food would be the priority humanitarian tasks over the next year. 5 October 2011The United Nations today welcomed the Haitian Parliament’s approval of a new Prime Minister after months of delay, voicing hope that the impoverished country where the world body maintains a large peacekeeping force can now accelerate its reconstruction efforts. read more

Stocks lose early momentum amid housing sector disappointment Caterpillar earnings

The Toronto stock market was little changed Monday morning, surrendering most early gains as profit-taking hit Research In Motion’s (TSX:RIM) share price while mining and energy stocks failed to benefit from higher commodity prices.The S&P/TSX composite index added 7.16 points to 12,823.79, while the TSX Venture Exchange was off 5.31 points at 1,221.93.The Canadian dollar sold off for a fourth session, down 0.3 of a cent to a six-month low of 99.05 cents US.The dollar has tumbled about 1 1/2 cents US since the Bank of Canada indicated Wednesday that it will be slower to raise interest rates than had been expected because of economic weakness.The dollar has been supported in recent months partly on sentiment that the central bank might hike rates later this year. Data released Friday showing low inflation in Canada at the end of 2012 further suggested that investors will have to wait longer for the central bank to move. Higher rates tend to attract investors and push up the currency.U.S. indexes lost early momentum as a disappointing housing sector report competed with a well received earnings report from heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. and data showing higher than expected durable goods orders in December.The Dow Jones industrials declined 14.23 points to 13,881.75 as the National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales dropped 4.3 per cent to 101.7 in December. That’s still 6.9 per cent higher than it was a year ago. Sales were held back by a limited supply of available homes.The Nasdaq gained 4.37 points to 3,154.08 and the S&P 500 index was down 3.05 points to 1,499.91.Durable goods orders rose by a greater than expected 4.6 per cent in December. That was more than double the consensus forecast for a two per cent gain. The transportation sector was largely responsible for the increase, with orders in that segment up 12 per cent.Caterpillar’s fourth-quarter profit fell 55 per cent to US$697 million, or $1.04 a share. The latest quarter included a previously disclosed goodwill impairment charge of 87 cents a share.Revenue dropped seven per cent to US$16.08 billion, beating estimates of $16 billion. Ex-items earnings were $1.91 per share versus expectations of $1.69 and its shares were up 1.35 per cent to US$96.87 in New York.A stronger than expected string of U.S. fourth-quarter earnings reports has helped push markets higher in January, with the TSX gaining 0.7 per cent last week while the Dow industrials ran ahead 1.8 per cent.“The markets are probably a little ahead of themselves, capturing the relief that we didn’t have great protracted political battles in the U.S.,” said Chris King, portfolio manager at Morgan, Meighen and Associates, referring to the so-called fiscal cliff and raising the debt ceiling.“All the while, we know that the U.S. economy is improving, China is turning around. And what is most encouraging, we’re seeing fund flows back into equities like we haven’t seen going back more than a decade.”The Canadian corporate earning season kicks into gear this week with some of Canada’s biggest companies reporting.Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) and grocer Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU.A) report earnings results on Tuesday while Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX:POT) and Canadian Oil Sands (TSX:COS) hand in numbers on Thursday.Elsewhere on the corporate front, Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM) unveils its new BlackBerry 10 product line in New York on Wednesday. Its stock has been on a tear lately amid optimism about the new lineup, rising 50 per cent in January and 12 per cent last week alone. However, its stock fell 77 cents, or 4.37 per cent, to $16.84 Monday morning on profit-taking.The gold sector was down 0.85 per cent as February bullion stepped back 50 cents to US$1,656.10 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) shed 24 cents to $32.78 while Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) faded 28 cents to C$8.30.The mining sector also helped depress the TSX, down 0.5 per cent as March copper on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose one cent to US$3.66 a pound. Thompson Creek Metals (TSX:TCM) shed six cents to C$4.13 and Capstone Mining (TSX:CS) declined six cents to $2.43.The energy sector was off 0.16 per cent even as oil prices advanced, with the March crude contract ahead five cents to US$95.93 a barrel. Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) lost 13 cents to C$44.95.The telecom sector gained 0.6 per cent with BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) ahead 34 cents to $44.70.Financials also supported the TSX as Royal Bank (TSX:RY) rose 46 cents to $62.56 while Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) gained 40 cents to $64.55.Economic news will also hopefully provide some direction for traders.In the U.S., the Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day meeting on interest rates Wednesday. No one expects the central bank to move on rates but traders will look for clues as to when the Fed might end its latest round of economic stimulus.Minutes from the previous Fed meeting, released Jan. 3, showed a split among members over how long to continue the stimulus, known as quantitative easing. It involves the Fed buying bonds to support the U.S. economy, a move aimed at keeping interest rates low.Some thought the program should be slowed or stopped before the end of 2013 amid concerns that the bond purchases would destabilize the economy.The key piece of data for the week comes out Friday. Economists generally expect the U.S. non-farm payrolls report to show that the economy created 153,000 jobs in January, slightly below December’s 155,000 reading.Traders will also take in the latest readings on economic growth in Canada and the U.S. during the week.European bourses were higher as London’s FTSE 100 index added 0.22 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX lost 0.24 per cent and the Paris CAC was up 0.07 per cent. read more

Cenovus Energy Inc hikes dividend by 10 as operating earnings rise in

CALGARY — Calgary-based oil sands producer Cenovus Energy Inc. said Thursday its raising its dividend by 10%.The increased payout to Cenovus shareholders was announced along with the company’s fourth-quarter results, which included $212 million of operating earnings, equal to 28 cents per share.That compared with a year-earlier operating loss of $188 million or 25 cents per share. The operating earnings exclude a number of items, including the impact of the company’s risk-management programs. With those items included, Cenovus had a fourth-quarter net loss of $58 million.More to come . . . read more

Closing Bell TSX closes higher amid strong manufacturing employment data

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market racked up a solid gain Wednesday amid rising hopes for a strong reading on U.S. job creation as traders also caught up with two positive manufacturing reports that were released while the TSX was closed for Canada Day.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 15,209.79+63.78 0.42%S&P 500 —  1,974.62+1.30 0.07%Dow — 16,976.24+20.17 0.12%Nasdaq — 4,457.73 -0.92 -0.02%Canadian stocks rose a fifth day as the benchmark index rose to an intraday record.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 63.78 points to 15,209.79 after data showed that Chinese manufacturing grew in June for the first time in six months. The gauge closed at record on June 30 and Wednesday surpassed its intraday high of 15,154.77 set on June 6, 2008.In the U.S., the manufacturing sector showed a 13th straight month of growth.The Canadian dollar was up 0.03 of a cent to 93.75 cents US.U.S. indexes put in lacklustre performances but the Dow Jones industrials and the S&P 500 again closed at fresh record highs. The Dow was up 20.17 points to 16,976.24 and the S&P 500 gained 1.3 points to 1,974.62. The Nasdaq was 0.92 of a point lower at 4,457.73.Traders were cautious ahead of the other major economic event for the week — the release Thursday of the U.S. government’s employment report for June.Ahead of that data, U.S. payrolls firm ADP reported that the private sector created 281,000 jobs in June, much higher than the 205,000 reading that had been forecast. That raised hopes the government figures would show the American economy cranked out more than the 210,000 jobs in the public and private sector that economists have forecast.“Clearly, now the market is going to set up for a bullish number,” said Wes Mills, chief investment officer at Scotia Private Client Group.“It does seem risk-on is coming back. People have been reluctant to fully endorse this rally and we know the fears that have popped up, whether it’s Ukraine or China or more recently this Iraq business. But it does seem the market is shaking all of these things off.”In corporate news, JPMorgan Chase chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon said he has curable throat cancer. Dimon said he plans to remain on the job and be actively involved in key decisions while undergoing treatment. Despite the reassurance, Dimon’s illness could raise leadership concerns at one of the world’s biggest banks. The bank’s shares declined 60 cents to US$56.97.In Canada, shares in Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (TSX:CP) (NYSE:CP) were 10 cents higher to C$193.41 after the carrier was upgraded by equities research analysts at CIBC from a “sector perform” rating to an “outperform” rating. Earlier this week, analysts at Barclays raised their price target on shares of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. from US$168 to US$196. The shares rose $1.19 to US$181.39 in New York.TSX advancers were led by the base metals component, up 3.85% as July copper gained six cents to US$3.27 a pound. The information technology sector was up 1.21% as BlackBerry (TSX:BB) ran up 45 cents or 4.11% to $11.39. The stock has surged lately, up about 40% in the past month amid strong quarterly financial results and enthusiasm over its new product. BlackBerry’s Passport, which meets somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet in size, is scheduled to launch in Europe this September.The gold sector shook off early declines to move up 0.2% while August bullion rose $4 to US$1,330.60 an ounce.The energy sector was ahead 0.3% with August crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 86 cents to a three-week low of US$105.08 a barrel. Prices had drifted higher to almost US$107 in June amid a growing insurgency in Iraq, but have since fallen the fighting has stayed well away from the south where most of Iraq’s oil production is located.With files from BloombergTOP STORIESCanadian dollar moves above 94 cents to 2014 high, but rally seen as short livedFed boss says rate moves not the way to address ‘pockets of increased risk-taking’ in financial systemFacebook investigated after manipulating users’ emotions in news feed study without consentMove over, oil sands: Shale powers rebound in deals for Canada’s energy sectorWHAT’S ON DECK THURSDAYCANADA8:30 a.m.Merchandise Trade Balance (May): Economists expect a deficit of $300,000 UNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Employment Report: Economists expect a gain of 215,000 jobs and the jobless rate to hold at 6.3% Weekly jobless claims: Economists expect 313,000 new claims, up from last week Goods and Services Trade Balance (May): Economists expect a deficit of $45-billion Non-manufacturing ISM Index (June): Economists expect a reading of 56.3 read more

DHX Media just scored a deal to distribute Slugterra toys in Burger

HALIFAX — A Halifax company has scored a deal to promote its “Slugterra” animated TV series through Burger King restaurants.DHX Media Ltd. says the fast-food chain has agreed to distribute four Slugterra toys this month in kids’ meals around the world.The company didn’t disclose financial details of the deal.The Slugterra toys are based on a creation by Vancouver-based animation studio Nerd Corps Entertainment, which has since been purchased by DHX Media.DHX Media expected to overcome loss of Disney licenceCorus Entertainment snaps up Disney content from DHX Media, plans to launch Disney channel in CanadaDHX has been expanding its kid- and youth-oriented entertainment business beyond the creation and distribution of programs such as “Inspector Gadget,” “Caillou” and the “Degrassi” franchise for teens and young adults.Among other things, DHX acquired Family and other Canadian specialty channels that were formerly part of the Astral lineup. read more

Canadians mostly happy with grocers despite breadprice fixing scheme survey

TORONTO — A new survey suggests Canadians still have a strong relationship with their grocer — with only about a third of respondents saying their view of their favoured retailer has worsened following revelations of an alleged industry-wide bread price-fixing scandal.The annual online survey by Argyle Public Relationships and Leger Research found 47 per cent of respondents said their views about their grocer didn’t change following allegations that at least seven Canadian grocers and bakery wholesalers co-ordinated the price of bread and related products for more than a decade.Nine per cent said the revelations significantly worsened their view, while 13 per cent said it improved their opinion of their retailer.Survey respondents over 45 years of age, as well as those who shop at Sobeys, Freshco or Loblaws were the most concerned.The annual relationships index found Canadians’ relationship with grocers is stronger than with brands in any other category surveyed since 2016, including banks and airlines.Grocery retailers scored between 68 and 74 out of 100 possible points in a public relations index that averages public ratings of how the brand respondents know best performs on six items, including trust, satisfaction and concern for people.Three Loblaw Companies Ltd. banners — No Frills, Loblaws and the Real Canadian Superstore — received the lowest scores of the 10 grocery retailers included in the survey, despite offering customers a $25 gift card as a goodwill gesture in light of the company’s participation in the alleged price-fixing scheme.Their competitors’ banners, including Sobeys and Metro, outperformed them slightly with scores of 72 and above.More than 1,500 Canadians were surveyed online between January 22 and 25, and February 12 and 15 for this edition of the index.The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.Companies in this story: (TSX:L, TSX:MRU) read more

Abductors arrested

The police said that they had arrested a group of abductors who had demanded ransom for the release of a woman and her child in Udugama.A 28 year old woman and her child were abducted on May 19 from their residence after the abductors broke into the house. The woman and the child were taken away in a van by the abductors who had later demanded Rs, 500,000 as ransom. The police said that the suspects had attempted to obtain Rs.  2,500,000 as ransom. Both the woman and the child were found the very next day, the police media unit said today. The police said that four suspects were arrested over the incident and a hand grenade was also recovered.Meanwhile in a separate incident the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) arrested three suspects in Mawanela over an attempt to abduct a person and obtain ransom. read more

Jaffna DIG top cops transferred

The police headquarters announced the transfer of several policemen including the Jaffna Deputy Inspector General of Police Erick Perera with effect from tomorrow.Others being transferred are DIG Ravi Wijegunawardena from Trincomalee, DIG K. Jayaweera from Vavuniya and DIG N.D. Daluwatte from Killinochchi. The police headquarter said that the Ministry of Defence had approved the police transfers.In all, 15 police officers will be transferred from tomorrow, the police media unit said. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Gold biscuits seized from passenger at BIA

Gold biscuits valued at Rs 2 million, were seized from a passenger who arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning.The Customs Department said that the Sri Lankan male, aged 49, had arrived from Singapore on a Srilankan Airlines flight. When his baggage was checked the authorities found 4 gold biscuits hidden inside weighing 400g, the Customs Department media unit said.The gold biscuits were confiscated and a penalty of Rs. 50,000 was imposed on the man. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Southern Provincial Council votes against 20th Amendment

Under the proposed 20th Amendment elections to all Provincial Councils will be held in one day.Last week the North Central Provincial Council approved the 20th Amendment to the Constitution while the Uva Provincial Council voted against it. The Southern Provincial Council today voted against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.The drafty bill on the 20th Amendment was rejected with 27 members voting against it. The opposition walked out at the time of the vote. The draft Bill on the 20th Amendment to Constitution was presented to Parliament last week. (Colombo Gazette) read more

IMF decides to resume program discussions with Sri Lanka

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decided to resume discussions on a funding programme with Sri Lanka.Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), met with Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy in Washington. Lagarde said they agreed that a strong policy mix, with effective implementation of that agenda, is key to strengthening confidence, while putting Sri Lanka on a sustainable, high-quality growth path that would benefit its people. “The IMF remains ready to support the Sri Lankan authorities in these endeavors and an IMF team is scheduled to visit Colombo in mid-February to resume program discussions.”The IMF had suspended the funding programme with Sri Lanka during the political crisis last year. (Colombo Gazette) “I was pleased to meet with Minister Samaraweera and Governor Coomaraswamy this afternoon. We discussed the challenging economic environment and the policy priorities for the country. The authorities stressed Sri Lanka’s continued commitment to their economic reform agenda under the IMF-supported program,” Lagarde said following the meeting. read more

Apple just unveiled a new iPod Touch — the first update in

Apple Inc. introduced a new iPod Touch Tuesday, showing support for a product that hadn’t been updated in four years after long being overshadowed by the iPhone.The new model will be priced starting at US$199, or $249 in Canada, and will contain Apple’s own A10 processor, allowing for a better gaming experience and new augmented reality features for the product, as well as Group FaceTime chat, Apple said. How the Apple Store lost its lustre Apple’s new product launch continues with updated AirPods ahead of March 25 event Apple’s hardware blitz continues as it rolls out first update to the iMac desktop in almost two years Apple hadn’t updated the iPod since 2015, and the enhancements will support Apple’s new services, such as Apple News+, Apple Arcade for games and Apple TV+, due to hit later this fall with original programming. Apple is increasingly counting on services to drive growth as sales of the iPhone slip. Fans of the Touch appreciate being able to access most of Apple’s apps and content without being tied to a phone subscription. The new lower price makes it less expensive than an iPad, which start at US$329.The original iPod arrived in 2001. It wasn’t the first digital music player but it upended the music industry and put 1,000 songs in people’s pockets. The shuffle hit the market in 2005 as the first iPod with faster flash storage and without a screen, while the nano was introduced later in the year as a replacement for the then-popular iPod mini. Both went through several redesigns in their early years before being supplanted by the iPhone.Bloomberg.com read more

Athletics Director moves to new business development role

Robert Hilson will be leaving the office of Director of Athletics next month to take on a new assignment as the University’s inaugural Director of Business Development and Partnerships.Tom Arkell, Associate Vice-President of University Services, said the new position will focus on advancing sponsorships and new business development, as well as marketing the wide range services and facilities within the University Services division. University Services operates such units as Dining Services, Residences, Parking Services, Conference & Event Services, Printing & Digital Services, Youth University and Athletics & Recreation.“Universities are moving in this direction, looking to generate more revenue from their existing assets,” said Arkell, “and Robert is well positioned to help get us to the next level in that respect.”Hilson joined Brock as Director of Athletics in 2011. During his tenure he developed the department’s first strategic plan, significantly grew revenue and oversaw five national varsity athletics championships (second in Ontario).Chris Critelli will serve as Interim Director of Athletics while a search is conducted for a full-time replacement. Critelli, currently Assistant Director of Athletics, is a former Canadian Olympian basketball player and a familiar figure at Brock, having served as a coach and administrator in Athletics for 32 years. read more